Fertility After 45 May Be in the Genes
A Women's Genetics May Protect Against Aging Ovaries
June 21, 2005 -- Some women may be better able to get pregnant naturally
after the age of 45 thanks to genes involved in aging.
Researchers studied a group of women who got pregnant without the aid of
infertility treatments after age 45 and found that they had a unique genetic
"These women appear to differ from the normal population due to a unique
genetic predisposition that protects them from the DNA damage and cellular
ageing that helps age the ovary," says researcher Neri Laufer, of the
Haddassah University Hospital in Jerusalem, in a news release.
He says it is not known whether these women's ability to protect the
biological clock is linked with potential longevity.
Laufer presented his findings today at the 21st annual conference of the
European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Copenhagen,
Genes Play Role in Fertility
Researchers say female fertility decreases with age and conceiving a child
naturally after age 45 is extremely rare. In addition, in vitro fertilization
treatments are rarely successful in women over 45.
Women's fertility is thought to decline with age due to both decreased
quantity and quality of eggs.
For the study, researchers identified eight Ashkenazi Jewish women over the
age of 45 who had conceived naturally and compared their genetic profile with
six other women in the same age group who stopped having children at age
Gene analysis of blood samples from the women showed that the eight women
who conceived after 45 had a unique pattern of gene expression that was not
present in the other women.
The main groups of genes in these patterns were involved in cell death and
DNA repair mechanisms.
Researchers say that screening women for these genetic patterns may help
doctors know which women will still be fertile at an advanced age.
"However, the question of motherhood over the age of 45 is a delicate
and complex one. It is very dependent on the religious and cultural background
of the women in question," says Laufer.